Cardiac research

One in 100 Australian children are born with a Congenital Heart Disease (CHD).

More than 30,000 children living with the condition. Of these children, more than 80 per cent will require open-heart surgery.

Thanks to the support of our donors, we are funding Australia’s largest cardiac study in children which is changing the way open-heart surgeries are performed on kids around the country and aiming to significantly reduce the incidence of life-threatening side effects.

Community support also contributes to the coordination and management of clinical trials and other research projects conducted by the cardiac team at Queensland Children’s Hospital. This program of clinical research will allow children suffering from congenital heart disease and other serious heart conditions the opportunity to access innovative treatments and surgical techniques to improve their health outcomes and quality of life.

How you can help children living with cardiac conditions

Hadley’s story

Twenty weeks into her pregnancy, doctors told Vienna some terrible news:

“They told us there was something wrong with our baby’s heart,” she said.

Having already had a healthy daughter previously, it was hard to imagine that three successive heart operations would be needed to give their unborn baby girl any chance at life.

“I could feel my baby kicking. It was tough.”

From the moment she was born, baby Hadley was whisked off to intensive care for further testing. It would be hours before Vienna would even get her first cuddle, but there would be many more heartbreaking moments ahead.

One week into her young life, Hadley would have her first of three open-heart surgeries. Each surgery was necessary to help her heart function on its own.

Vienna now understood how upsetting this journey would be. “I remember seeing her before the surgery and not knowing whether we were saying ‘goodbye’.”

Vienna was relieved to see her daughter in Intensive Care Unit later that day, but she was also shocked.

“She looked awful. She was swollen and had all these tubes, and you could see her chest had been opened.”

With one more surgery to go, Vienna is pinning her hopes on our researchers to see that her daughter is given the best chance of making it through safely.

Thanks to a first-of-its-kind study, led by Associate Professor Schlapbach, improvements may not be far away.

Associate Professor Luregn Schlapbach believes there is a lot of promise in testing the impact of adding nitric oxide to a heart-lung machine during surgery.

He is hopeful the simple addition of this gas could reduce harmful inflammation to a baby’s major organs.

“It would mean that there would be fewer babies that need intensive care after surgery, or risk long-term damage,” he said.

Many children will develop inflammation in the six-12 hours after surgery as a result of being on a heart-lung machine. This can have life-threatening side effects, and can lead to permanent organ damage, brain damage, cardiac arrest and death.

Any way the safety of heart surgery can be improved will have a lasting impact on the child.

“It’s a very vulnerable time for the development of major organs, like the brain.”

Baby Hadley is the one-in-100 babies born with a congenital heart condition, which remains in the top five causes of infant and child death.

It’s why your support for research can make a life-saving difference.